I ran across this comic this morning and thought I’d share. I’ve been a regular reader of “This Modern World” for more than 10 years. Sad, but true. With the murder of Dr. Tiller and the Obama administration bringing back Clinton era programs to target this kind of violence, it seemed very appropriate.
I’ve been in a position where I had to make that choice. I was 19, unemployed, not emotionally mature or emotionally capable enough to have a child, and knew that the person I was with (sorry Hawkeye, I hope this doesnt sound mean.) was not emotionally mature enough, or emotionally capable enough to help care for a baby. I found out I was pregnant when I missed my period. Even though it was one of the most difficult and emotionally fraught decisions I’ve made in my life, I knew I was making the right decision for me.
I found the name of a clinic in town that offered abortion information. What neither of us knew was that the clinic was run by a group of Christian fundamentalists who used anatomically incorrect plastic dolls to show fetal development. I was 5 weeks along. There is absolutely no way developmentally a 5 week old fetus has fully formed eyes, arms, and legs. The woman wanted to shame me into going through with the pregnancy and when I said I was still going to get an abortion she got angry and said the Planned Parenthood in Waterloo did not offer abortion services. I told her I would go to the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City. She got more angry and upset but Hawkeye and I left, went home, and called the clinic.
I called the clinic to make my appointment. The woman on the other end of the line was kind, patient, and asked me a bunch of questions like when was my last period etc. She said they did occasionally have protesters but hadnt had any in a while. I made my appointment for a week later and Hawkeye and I went to the clinic one hot and sunny morning. Iowa City was an hour away from where we were living at the time.
Because RU-486 was not yet legal in the US, I had a suction-aspiration procedure. Yes, this is as uncomfortable, painful, and intrusive procedure as the Wikipedia page describes. First the nurse swabs your cervix with lidocaine at the end of a long q-tip then you get a shot of lidocainedirectly into the cervix with a frighteningly long needle. Then the Dr. opens your cervix slowly (from what I remember hearing it sounded like someone was cranking it open) then once it’s open far enough the Dr. basically vacuums out your uterus. Yes, this is incredibly unpleasant. Yes, even with the lidocaine, it is uncomfortable. Unfortunately for me, the Dr. performing the procedure didnt get much tissue which raised the issue of a possible ectopic pregnancy.
A week and a half, several blood tests (I looked like I started doing heroin because of all needle marks on my arms), and an ultrasound later, showed there was no ectopic pregnancy just that the Dr. did not perform the procedure correctly.
The male tech tried telling me that it was a sign from God and I should reconsider my decision. He’s a fucking lab tech at a hospital. Where the fuck does he get the idea telling me that is okay.
A few days later I was back at the clinic to go through the whole thing all over again. I forgot to mention that this whole time, nearly 7 weeks, I was so sick with morning sickness I couldnt keep anything down. Not even water. Anything that went in my mouth came right back up. I’m fairly thin anyway and lost nearly 10 lbs.
Even though I had to go through this painful procedure twice, the women at the clinic couldnt have been more kind. I was treated with more kindness and respect than I felt I deserved. Before having the procedure I talked to a counselor. Even with all the follow up appointments I never once felt shamed or judged. Those were feelings I carried inside me for years afterward. Shame, guilt, and fear of being judged.
After the procedure, there was a lot of cramping and bleeding. It’s not a gentle thing for the body to go through. A or two later, I could finally keep food down, in my stomach, where it belonged. Hawkeye had me take some of his Ultram for the pain.
I’m a 31 year old woman. I’m grateful I live in an area of the country where if I needed to make this decision again, I would have access to the services I need.
It drives me bug fuck crazy that people who will never be faced with this choice decide to shame women who have been faced with this decision. This applies to men directly. Sorry, on this issue, I have a lot of judgement about men in general. I know not all men are this way. Men dont have vagina’s and they dont have wombs. Men will never be able to carry a baby or face the choice of having to terminate a pregnancy. Men (and yes, I worked with a man who held this belief) who think women get pregnant on purpose just to have an abortion, drive me to no end of frustration. Honestly, it really fucking pisses me off. Anyone who thinks that women have abortions just to have them, are so blind to what women actually face when making this difficult decision, it’s actually pathetic. Honestly, I dont believe men have any say in a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. Ultimately, it’s the woman’s responsibility to carry and most likely to care for her child for the span of it’s life. Men, on this issue, should really keep their mouths shut.
I’ve had this same talk with M. Even though M. is gay and a guy, he would want to have some say or talk with his girlfriend on this issue. M. has always wanted a kid, but M. would ultimately respect any decision his girlfriend/wife made. He’s kind and compassionate. I understand M.’s position, and to some extent, I do agree with him. Not all men are like M. Some men are real assholes. Men walk away from pregnant women/girlfriends every day.
Yes, I have a lot of anger around this issue. I’m now, finally, at peace with the choice I made. I knew adoption wouldnt be an option for me. I knew in my heart that once I gave birth I would never be able to give my children away. I can have a discussion with someone who believes abortion is wrong. I’ve had that discussion with friends. It’s the judgment that can come that riles my anger, that makes me see red and says “Listen you fucking jackass . . .” No man has the right to judge me for that or any choice I make.
I do occasionally have pangs of guilt when I read about women who desperately want children and are unable to have them. To them, I want to say that I’m sorry. I made the best decision for myself and my well being at the time. If faced with the same situation, I’d make the same choice.
That’s the topical rant for today. Please, I hope no one has pity for me. I didnt post this to look for pity. Whether you agree or not abortion is legal. It’s one of the most common procedures performed in the US. It does not destroy the lives of women who choose abortion over adoption or carrying the pregnancy to term and raising the kid. Making abortion illegal would not stop women from seeking this service. It’s a procedure that in one way or another has been performed, whether with sticks or herbs to induce miscarriage, for a few thousand years. Ancient Egyptians performed abortion. At the least, legal abortion makes it safe. No back alley’s, no coat hangers, no coke bottles.